New Canal in Poland Means Fewer Ties to Russia

Waterway means ships won't need Moscow's permission to enter Vistula Lagoon ports
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 19, 2022 11:18 AM CDT
New Canal in Poland Means Fewer Ties to Russia
File photo of a pier by the Vistula Lagoon.   (Getty/Dariusz Leszczynski)

(Newser) – Poland’s top leaders celebrated over the weekend the opening of a new—albeit unfinished—canal that they say will mean ships no longer must secure Russia's permission to sail from the Baltic Sea to the ports of the Vistula Lagoon. The event was timed to mark 83 years since the Soviet invasion of Poland during World War II and to demonstrate symbolically the end of Moscow's say on the economy and development of a region that borders Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, per the AP. The government says the waterway gives Poland full sovereignty in the northeastern region.

"The idea was to have this waterway opened and not to have to ask permission anymore from a country that is not friendly and whose authorities do not hesitate to attack and subdue others," said Polish President Andrzej Duda. He said the $420 million investment will pay off through the increase in the value of the land around it, specifically through the development of the cities and ports on the lagoon thanks to increased trade, business, and tourism.

The canal cuts across the Vistula Spit, east of Gdansk, to allow ships to sail from the Baltic Sea and the Bay of Gdansk to Elblag and smaller ports of the lagoon without obtaining authorization to travel through Russia's Strait of Pilawa. It also shortens the Baltic-to-Elblag route by some 54 nautical miles. However, cargo ships can't use the passage until the approach to the Port of Elblag is deepened to 16 feet. (Read more Poland stories.)

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